Former Kwara Football Academy Technical Director Paul Ashworth recently celebrated the Kazakhstan Super Cup with his new club FC Astana. He had a chat with Joseph Odoekwu of Sports Intelligence Magazine (www.simag.com.ng), ahead of the AFCON 2019 and also spoke of Africa’s unchecked unpreparedness for the Qatar 2022 World Cup . The excerpts read.
Congrats on your recent victory with your new club, how do you feel?
Its great and am happy that we won the Kazakhstan super cup.
Whats your take about the forthcoming AFCON 2019 to be hosted by Egypt, do you see Nigeria making any impact?
Its quite difficult to talk about that for now, I have not been following the Super Eagles and most African nations after their unimpressive performance at the Russia 2018 World Cup. So it will be unfair to rate the teams ahead of the AFCON 2019.
Going by their performance at the 2018 World Cup whats your take for African teams ahead of Egypt 2019?
Which of the countries in the Russia 2018 World Cup are you really talking about Egypt or Nigeria
All that were at the World Cup last year Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia?
Honestly, they were all poor in performance at the Russia 2018 World Cup. And I guess the least poor among them then may win the Egypt 2019. Senegal was Africa’s best performing team in Russia World Cup and I expect them to win, but I doubt if they will win. Egypt may win the AFCON title because they will be playing at home. But I also have to state here now that I follow more of the Asian teams, and I have discovered that Asian countries will outclass African countries in the next world cup in Qatar 2022. In a nutshell, African teams will be worse in Qatar 2022.
You said Asia will outclass Africa in terms of performance in Qatar 2022, how do you mean?
What I mean exactly is that for the first time all Asian countries may scale through to the round of 16, while all African countries will exit at the group stage. It is going to be Europe, South and North America, Asia and Middle-East then Africa.Qatar, Iran, South Korea, Japan even UAE are looking stronger and stronger in performance, while the African teams are looking weaker at each FIFA World Cup.
In your opinion, what do you think the Asian teams are doing right now that African teams are not?
Unfortunately it is the same old story – bad administration, corruption and no long term planning for the development of football. Let me give you an instance, Qatar set up Aspire academy 15 years ago and now have won the Asian Cup for the first time, it shows their effort has paid off. No African countries are close to doing that and that is quite unfortunate.
But you were once in charge of KFA in Nigeria which is like the Aspire academy, why did you not implement these ideas while you were there?
Thank you, the Kwara Football Academy was a fantastic idea and a vision for football development for Nigeria and Africa as a whole, but in the last 4-5 years there has been no investment into it and thats the point. If you plan something long term you have to see it through. You can’t compare the investment in Aspire academy to KFA. Aspire must have invested 1000 times more at least and that is why they are getting result.
So you think Egypt will win the AFCON 2019?
I think so greatly and like I said earlier its going to be because they are at home.
Thank you for making out time to chat with us.